Dr Charles West

M.A. (Cambridge), MPhil (Birmingham), Ph.D. (Cambridge)

Department of History

Reader in Medieval History

Director of Graduate Studies

Dr Charles West
c.m.west@sheffield.ac.uk
+44 114 22 22608

Full contact details

Dr Charles West
Department of History
3.10
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
Sheffield
S3 7RA
Profile

I joined the Department of History as a lecturer in 2008, after a PhD at Cambridge and a research fellowship at Oxford. I research and teach the history of Europe between the seventh and twelfth centuries.

My research has been supported by grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Humboldt Foundation, and I have held visiting fellowships at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Sidney Sussex College Cambridge, and the University of Edinburgh. 

Research interests

Medieval and Ancient Research Centre at the University of Sheffield 

Current research

My research is focused on earlier medieval European (including British) history c. 600 - 1200.

Past projects include books on the Feudal Revolution, the Carolingian cleric Hincmar of Reims, the role of writing in early medieval Europe, and the nature of early medieval rural communities, as well as a study of the secular in early medieval Europe, set in a global perspective.

I am currently writing a book for Oxford University Press on eleventh-century Europe, provisionally titled Between Reform and Revolution, and beginning a new project on corruption and simony.

I am fascinated by the challenges of interpreting the notoriously enigmatic sources of the earlier Middle Ages, and in my work I have sought to provide the richest readings possible to them across a range of textual genres: restoring authorial agendas, reading against the grain, and attempting to harness this evidence where possible to an early medieval history from below that is sensitive to political and social context.

I am also interested in the potential of new forms of technology for creating and sharing knowledge about the past.

My research has been supported by an AHRC Leadership Fellowship and a Humboldt-Stiftung Fellowship. In 2016 I was a visiting scholar at the University of Edinburgh and a visiting researcher at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.

In 2020 I was a visiting fellow at Sidney Sussex College Cambridge, and was awarded a visiting professorship at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, postponed because of COVID-19.

You can follow my latest research on my blog, http://turbulentpriests.group.shef.ac.uk

Publications

Books

Edited books

Journal articles

Chapters

  • West C (2020) The “schism of 1054” and the politics of church reform in Lotharingia, c. 1100 In Kohl T (Ed.), Konflikt und Wandel um 1100 (pp. 195-207). De Gruyter RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2019) Royal estates, confiscation and the politics of land in the kingdom of Otto I In Bougard F & Lore V (Ed.), Biens publics, biens du roi. Les bases économiques des pouvoirs royaux dans le haut Moyen Âge (pp. 155-175). View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2019) “And how, if you are a Christian, can you hate the emperor?”. Reading a seventh-century scandal in Carolingian Francia’ In Kellermann K, Plassmann A & Schwermann C (Ed.), Criticising the ruler in pre-modern societies – possibilities, chances and methods (pp. 411-430). Bonn. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2018) 'Dissonance of speech, consonance of meaning': The 862 Council of Aachen and the transmission of Carolingian conciliar records In Screen E & West C (Ed.), Writing the Early Medieval West (pp. 169-182). Cambridge University Press View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2018) Carolingian kingship and the peasants of Le Mans: the Capitulum in cenomannico pago datum In Große R & Sot M (Ed.), Charlemagne: les temps, les espaces, les hommes (pp. 227-244). Brepols View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2015) Hincmar's parish priests, Hincmar of Rheims (pp. 228-246). RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2015) Competing for the Holy Spirit: Humbert of Moyenmoutier and the Question of Simony In Bougard F, Depreux P & Le Jan R (Ed.), Compétition et sacré au haut Moyen Âge: entre médiation et exclusion RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2015) Le saint, le charpentier et le prêtre: l’Apparitio Sancti Vedasti et les élites dans la Francia du IXe siècle In Jegou L, Lienhard T & Schneider J (Ed.), Faire lien. Réseaux, aristocratie et échange compétitif au Moyen Âge. Mélanges en l’honneur de Régine Le Jan (pp. 237-245). View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2015) Group formation in the long tenth century: a view from Trier and its region In Albrecht & Kleinjung (Ed.), Das lange 10. Jahrhundert – Struktureller Wandel zwischen Zentralisierung und Fragmentierung, äußerem Druck und innerer Krise (pp. 49-59). View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2013) Meaning and context: Moringus the lay scribe and charter formulation in late-Carolingian Burgundy In McKinley & Jarrett (Ed.), Problems and Possibilities of Early Medieval Charters (pp. 71-87). View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2013) All in the same boat? East Anglia, the North Sea world and the 1147 expedition to Lisbon In Bates D & Liddiard R (Ed.), East Anglia and Its North Sea World in the Middle Ages Boydell Press View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2012) Dynastic Historical Writing In Foot S & Robinson C (Ed.), Oxford History of Historical Writing 600-1400 Oxford. RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2011) Evaluating Conflict at Court: a West Frankish perspective In Becher M & Plassmann A (Ed.), Streit am Hof im frühen Mittelalter Ruprecht Gmbh & Company RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2011) Urban populations and associations In Crick J & Houts EV (Ed.), A Social History of England, 900-1200 (pp. 198-207). Cambridge. RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2011) Principautés et territoires, comtes et comtés In Gaillard M (Ed.), De la mer du Nord à la Méditerranée View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C (2010) Legal culture in tenth-century Lotharingia In Rollason DWDW, Leyser C & Williams H (Ed.), England and the Continent in the Tenth Century Brepols Pub RIS download Bibtex download
  • West C () Exclusion et la paysannerie au XIe siècle au miroir des Versus de Unibove In Joye S (Ed.), Exclusion View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews

Datasets

Research group

Research supervision

I welcome proposals for research projects in the field of early medieval European history.

Current students

  • Tianpeng Zhang - The Ministerium of the Male Secular Aristocracy in Others' Eyes: A Study of Carolingian Admonition
  • Richard Gilbert - Late Medieval English Society in Transition: the Tinsley Court Rolls in Context.
  • Alex Traves - Kinship in Early Medieval England, AD 600 – 1050: Law, Land and Literature.
  • Mary Young - ‘De libris quos legere solebam’. Multi-text Manuscripts and the Accumulation and Transfer of Knowledge at Reichenau and St Gall in the Ninth Century.

All current students by supervisor

Completed students

  • James Chetwood - Tom, Dick and Leofric: The Transformation of English Personal Naming, c.800-1300
  • Alyx Mattison - The Execution and Burial of Criminals in Early Medieval England, c. 850-1150.

PhD study in History

Teaching interests

I teach a range of medieval history courses, with a focus on Carolingian and eleventh-century European topics. At MA level, I teach a course on the theory and practice of editing Wikipedia.

Teaching activities

Undergraduate

  • HST112 - Paths from Antiquity to Modernity
  • HST116 - Empire: From the Ancient World to the Middle Ages
  • HST2023 - 1066 And All That
  • HST2520 - Revolution, Reform and Crusade in 11th-c. Europe
  • HST3154/3155 - Breaking up (in) the Carolingian Empire

Postgraduate

  • HST6089 - Wikipedia and Medieval History
Professional activities

Previous administrative roles

Senior Admissions Tutor, Level II tutor

Public engagement

My public engagement takes several forms. I run an active Twitter account and associated blog, whose focus is on medieval European history. From 2017, I began experimenting with integrating Wikipedia, the world’s largest encyclopedia, into my MA teaching, leading to the creation and improvement of many pages on medieval topics. These are read by thousands of people across the world each year.

In the past, I have also brokered public lecture series with Museums Sheffield (2011-12) and with Sheffield Cathedral (2016), set up the Witness Oral History project (2011-18), and contributed to an Arts Enterprise project on the medieval records of Tinsley. I have also talked about my research to public groups such as the University of the Third Age.

In the media

I have been interviewed on BBC Radio 4 and local radio stations, and have contributed to the department's History Matters blog. I have also written for The Conversation, History Today and the London Review of Books